Ballet Training
Pacific Northwest Ballet School Professional Division students take Eva Stone's modern dance class. Photo by Lindsay Thomas, Courtesy PNB.

"Who here is terrified of choreographing?"

It was a question posed by Pacific Northwest Ballet School teacher Eva Stone five weeks ago, sitting on the floor among her class of female summer intensive students. "Almost all of them raised their hand, but I said, 'Don't worry, I got you,'" says Stone. "'I'm going to give you tools and skills and you're going to build on them.' It's amazing how their perspective changed in five weeks."

Stone's choreography class, introduced into the summer program last year, served as a pilot for a new initiative at PNB School beginning this September. New Voices: Choreography and Process for Young Women in Dance is a year-round class dedicated to educating and encouraging 14 to 16-year-old female students in the art of dancemaking. Made possible through funding from the Virginia B. Toulmin Foundation, the 38-week course was created to help address the lack of women choreographers working in major classical ballet companies.

PNB School is one of several academies offering choreographic opportunities to its students. Houston Ballet Academy and the Chautauqua Institution, for example, hold workshops during their summer intensives, while Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet and Ballet Academy East recently joined forces to create a choreographic exchange program. And School of American Ballet offers numerous choreographic projects for its dancers, including one for women. What makes PNB's initiative unique is its year-long scope and structured focus on composition.

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News
Jane Cracovaner and Elijah Laurant with MOVETHECOMPANY, which will perform at the Joyce Ballet Festival this week. Photo Craig Foster, Courtesy Joyce Theater.

Wonder what's going on in ballet this week? We've pulled together some highlights.


The Joyce Ballet Festival Is Back

New York City's Joyce Theater kicks off its five-company Ballet Festival June 26-July 7. Showcasing a variety of styles including neoclassical and contemporary dance, the festival prides itself on featuring smaller companies. Below, check out the three companies opening this week. (Feeling festive? Enter our giveaway to win tickets to the Ashley Bouder Project at the Joyce on July 5.)

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Summer Intensive Survival
Photo by Natalia Figueredo via Unsplash

The summer I turned 16, my head swirled with "what ifs" as I counted down the days until the start of the Chautauqua intensive. I'd attended the program four years earlier, and the experience had been a harrowing one—my first lesson in the competitive nature of ballet. Leaving the temperate waters of my little pond, I'd found myself a very small, uncoordinated fish in a pool deep with talent. Now, I was going back to test myself again, this time in Chautauqua's top level. Would I be as good as the other dancers? Would the teachers like me? Would I make friends?

Summer intensives are aptly titled. Their extreme demands can cause anxiety, nerves, jealousy and stress. But put down the question marks! Don't let a negative state of mind keep you from soaking up everything your summer has to offer.

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News

Patricia McBride in George Balanchine's Tchaikovsky Pas de Deux

 

Last Sunday night in the nation’s capital, the who’s who of Hollywood and politics came together for the 37th annual Kennedy Center Honors to celebrate the career of former New York City Ballet star Patricia McBride. Each year, the Honors tribute the lives and contributions of five extraordinary artists; the other four 2014 honorees included Tom Hanks, Al Green, Lily Tomlin and Sting.

 

McBride, who at age 18 became NYCB’s youngest principal dancer, was one of George Balanchine’s most memorable muses, inspiring original roles in Rubies, Who Cares, A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Tarantella, as well as Jerome Robbins’ Dances at a Gathering, The Four Seasons and Goldberg Variations. She danced as a principal for 28 years (another company record), partnering Mikhail Baryshnikov and Edward Villella. Now, she serves as associate artistic director and master teacher of both Charlotte Ballet and the Chautauqua Institution alongside her husband, former NYCB principal Jean-Pierre Bonnefoux.

 

McBride—quite possibly the sweetest woman in the dance business—sat alongside President and Mrs. Obama in the presidential box during Sunday’s ceremony. According to The Charlotte Observer, actress Christine Baranski paid special tribute to her, along with a series of performances in her honor by NYCB’s Tiler Peck, Jared Angle and Lauren Lovette, American Ballet Theatre’s Misty Copeland, Boston Ballet’s Jeffrey Cirio and dancers from McBride’s home team: Anna Gerberich, Sarah Hayes Harkins, Alessandra Ball James and Pete Leo Walker of Charlotte Ballet. Luckily, we’ll all have a chance to watch the star-studded event in a few weeks—The Kennedy Center Honors will be televised nationally on CBS on December 30 at 9:00 pm ET. Tune in to pay your own special tribute to one of ballet’s most treasured artists.

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